Eileen Sheridan

Tributes have been paid to cyclist Eileen Sheridan – who “blazed a trail for countless female riders” – following her death at the age of 99.

The Coventry resident broke all 21 of the Women’s Road Records Association records, with five of them yet to be beaten, British Cycling said.

Mrs Sheridan broke the Land’s End to John O’Groats women’s record in 1954 in two days, 11 hours and seven minutes.

She was “an inspiration to so many who followed”, the cycling body said.

Nicknamed for her stature at 4ft 11in (1.49m), the Mighty Atom first started with Coventry Cycling Club in 1944 and began racing a year later, winning a 25-mile time trial and breaking her club’s record.

One of the “true pioneers” of women’s cycling, she retired in 1955 and had her second child with her husband Ken Sheridan.

Coventry’s bicycle mayor Adam Tranter said: “She’s not a household name, but what she achieved means she should be.

“The records she had, when you look at the speed and the distance, are totally out of this world.

“When you look at the equipment today [with] more focus on aerodynamics, they are incredible feats of sportspersonship… My dad spoke to her at an event. She was so humble about it.”

Mrs Sheridan “blazed a trail for countless female riders before women were even allowed to compete on the Olympic or world stage”, British Cycling said.

She achieved success at the national time-trial championships, before taking a break from the sport to give birth to a son in 1946.

Returning to the bike just seven weeks later, she tested her endurance with 50-mile and 100-mile time trials and became national champion for both in 1950.

When Mrs Sheridan broke the Land’s End to John O’Groats women’s record in 1954, she had ridden the first 470 miles to Carlisle without a break.

Among the records yet to be beaten in London to Edinburgh in 20 hours, 11 minutes and 35 seconds, set in 1954.

Charity Cycling UK said: “She was one of the most celebrated cyclists of her generation, breaking record after record. A wonderful athlete and true inspiration.”

Her steel figure on the National Cycle Network showed “the regard she’s held in”, cycling charity Sustrans stated after the local public chose her to be represented on a Warwickshire section.

The rider, who signed a professional contract with Hercules Cycle and Motor Company, was “an incredible sporting hero and trailblazer”, Mr Tranter stated.

Some of her trophies were in Coventry Transport Museum, he added.

“I was totally inspired by her and I grew up in Coventry and wanted to be a racing cyclist.

“I can’t think of a better role model and metaphor for everything that’s good about cycling, perseverance, a lot… on her own, her against the clock, the purest form of sport if you like.”


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